Gone are the days when windows were only expected to let in sunlight, showcase a view outside, keep precipitation out, and add beauty to the home. Nowadays, modern windows are expected to do all that and more. From smart windows to insulated windows, advancements in technology and manufacturing have shown us the sky’s the limit when it comes to the comfort and security of our home.
In this article, we discuss the up-and-coming window trend: quadruple-glazed windows.
Types of Insulated Windows
Insulated windows are also known as sealed windows or multi-pane windows. The glass component of these windows may also be referred to as insulated glass units or IGUs. The main benefit that these windows bring is added insulation, resulting in extra comfort and increased energy efficiency.
The glass used in insulated windows is referred to by the terms “glazed” and “pane” which indicates how many sheets of glass are being used. This means that a double-glazed window (which has two sheets of glass) is the same as a double-pane window. With this knowledge, you can assume that triple-glazed or triple-pane are for windows with three sheets of glass and quadruple-glazed or quadruple-pane are for windows with four sheets of glass.
Currently, there are manufacturers out there who make quadruple-glazed or “quad-glazed windows.” However, they are not common in all areas of the world. In fact, in Canada, these types of insulated glass or multi-pane glass windows are not very easy to find.
If you’re considering quadruple-glazed windows as an option, you may wonder why they are not as readily available in North America, if and when they will become an option, as well as their benefits, and the costs associated.
Multi-Pane Windows 101: The Structure & Benefits
If you are still quite new to the concept of multi-pane windows, you need to understand the basics as it will add more context to the rest of this article.If you’re already familiar with these, please feel free to skip to the next section.
Multi-pane windows are comprised of two or more glass panes that are placed parallel to each other and then filled with either air or noble gas in the in-between spaces.
Multi-pane windows offer the following benefits in varying degrees:
- Decreased power consumption related to heating and air conditioning
- A more comfortable and well-insulated home or office space
- Reduction of noise coming from the outside
- Stronger window glass and improved security
- Long-lasting windows
Ultimately, the more panes the glass has, the better the benefits. In Canada, double-glazed and triple-glazed windows are popular choices while quadruple-glazed windows are not.
Why Double-Glazed and Triple-Glazed Windows Are Popular in Canada
Modern residential windows in Canada need to be at least double-glazed in order to provide insulation and energy-efficiency amidst the climate of the country.
In some areas, like the province of Ontario, having double-glazed windows is not just a matter of practicality but is a matter of adhering to the law. On January 1, 2013, the Ontario provincial government made changes to its Green Energy Act; within these changes, they required all residential windows to be double-glazed and have a Low-E (low emissivity) coating.
In some cases, homeowners and property owners want more than the benefits that double-glazed windows have to offer. It could be that they want added insulation, more noise reduction, better security, and so on. If these are their objectives, they are on the right track by going for triple-glazed windows. Now, triple-pane windows are gaining popularity, not just in Canada, but also in the United States.
This brings us to the question: Why aren’t quad-glazed windows popular in Canada? Don’t property owners want even more insulation, more noise-reduction, and more security? Though property owners may want these benefits, there are a number of reasons why they are not opting for quad-glazed windows.
Why Quad-Glazed Windows Aren’t Popular in Canada Right Now
There are two main reasons why quad-glazed windows aren’t gaining popularity in Canada:
1. Many Property Owners Feel That the Cost Isn’t Worth It
For many property owners, upgrading windows is an investment. The cost of a double-glazed window is around 5-7 times that of a single-pane window. However, single-pane windows, as we’ve discussed in the previous section, are no longer widely manufactured in some parts of Canada so this cost difference is often no longer considered by many property owners.
The cost difference between a double-glazed window and a triple-glazed window is only 10-15%. Furthermore, the provided increase in thermal resistance of a triple-glazed window is 47% more than that of a double-glazed window. So, it’s understandable why triple-glazed windows are gaining popularity. The cost difference isn’t a lot and yet, it gives plenty of additional thermal resistance – which contributes to its insulating power.
The cost jump from triple-glazed windows to quadruple-glazed windows, however, isn’t as appealing. Right now, quadruple-glazed windows are 200% more expensive than triple-glazed windows and would only offer an additional thermal resistance of 20%. Because of this, many homeowners shake their heads and decide that the large cost difference is not worth it.
2. The Added Weight of Quadruple-Glazed Windows Present Certain Limitations
The more panes of glass that a window has the heavier it will be, therefore they are more difficult to install.
Additionally, the weight of the insulating glass provides a challenge for manufacturers in framing these glass units if they are to be made bigger. “Added weight” may not be as compelling of an argument as the unappealing cost of quadruple-glazed windows, however, weight-related disadvantages may still put some people off.
Will Quadruple-Glazed Windows Ever Be Popular in Canada?
Though there are a number of disadvantages that come with quad-glazed windows, they are actually popular in many Nordic countries due to the harsh climate that residents face there for most parts of the year. Canada, however, is also listed as one of the coldest countries in the world. So it is not wholly unlikely that quadruple-sized windows will gain popularity at some point. After all, the practical need is there.
The only gaps that are keeping quad-glazed windows from taking over Canada are the unappealing cost and the disadvantages related to the added weight of the windows. With the right innovation that addresses these two main barriers, we could definitely see more quad-glazed windows in Canada.
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